Top 25 Reasons People Wait to File Their Personal Injury Claims

personal injury claim

Each year, millions of Americans suffer personal injuries due to other people’s negligence. Sadly, most victims fail to recover the compensation they’re entitled to either out of ignorance of their rights or fear of the legal system. 

Yet according to statistics, only about 4% of 400,000 personal injury cases make it to trial each year. The rest are usually resolved without going to court. Below are the top 25 reasons people delay or fail to file personal injury claims. 

Missing Out on Benefits: 25 Reasons Why People Delay Filing Personal Injury Claims

If you’ve ever been involved in a personal injury case, chances are you delayed or thought of not taking legal action for the following reasons. 

1. Lack of Sufficient Evidence

Strong evidence builds up the credibility of a case, without which a personal injury claim may not be successful. When you don’t have enough evidence to prove third-party liability, it can be challenging to push your claim forward. Consider working with a California personal injury lawyer to try to strengthen your case. 

2. Private Settlement with Insurance Adjusters

As expected, the liable party’s insurance adjuster will likely try to make a direct deal. They’ll probably offer a specific amount so the injured party doesn’t file any personal injury case against them. It’s important to remember that people deserve fair compensation for pain, medical expenses, and other damages. It is a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney to ensure you don’t agree to a bad deal, however tempting the offer is, to determine whether it may be a better option to file a personal injury claim within the deadline imposed by law. 

3. Multiple Liable Parties

In a personal injury case involving multiple parties who may be liable for the accident or injury, locating them and gathering the required information can be overwhelming. When dealing with a health crisis, people may be unable to accomplish that within the shortest time possible. 

4. Fear of Negative Perception

You may feel concerned about the impact of a claim on your reputation. The assumption that it will portray you as an opportunist is likely unfounded since your health, financial security, and future well-being are on the line. Seeking legal advice and legal intervention is not a crime, so protect your rights proactively.

5. Lack of Medical Proof

Delaying to receipt of medical treatment may complicate your injuries resulting in inconsistencies in your medical reports. These are possible loopholes the liable party’s attorney might be able to use to fight a claim. Most of the time, the first step to a successful personal injury claim is seeking appropriate medical attention and keeping a detailed medical record. 

6. Lack of Professional Legal Representation

Immediately after an accident involving a personal injury, the at-fault party’s lawyers or insurance providers will probably contact the injured party with advice and offers. People who are injured are likely to be bombarded and overwhelmed to the point they delay following the right channel to fight for their rights. 

To be on the safe side, consider letting whoever wants to contact you do so through your personal injury lawyer, who is better placed to protect your rights.

7. Zero Motivation

People may feel frustrated and overwhelmed by the prospect of a legal battle, thinking it’s tedious and time-consuming. While this is true, it’s nothing compared to the agony and financial burdens people have to bear as the people responsible get away with causing harm. A motivated injured party can focus on receiving treatment and getting better while a dedicated attorney fights their battles. 

8. Emotional Agony

Accidents and their aftermath can be deeply traumatizing. The emotional distress can make filing a timely personal injury claim impossible. Working with the best legal team possible ensures access to counseling, therapy, and quality health care. These costs are generally eventually paid for by compensation recovered from a successful claim. 

9. Uncertainty About the Responsible Parties

An accident can be disorienting and confusing. If you can’t locate or ascertain who is liable, it can take some time before a claim can be filed. However, delays can cause you to miss the deadline forever, locking you out of any damages you may recover. Your responsible attorney will be able to investigate the accident and might be able to locate the liable party to ensure timely legal action. 

10. Lack of Awareness

If you don’t know your rights in a personal injury matter, you may not know how to go about it. The longer you mull over the viability of your claim, the weaker your case may be. It’s advisable to obtain legal counsel for possible representation from the outset. 

11. Fear of the Unknown

The justice system and the legal procedures can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have a legal team. Endeavor to work with a reputable attorney with a history of counseling and advising on even the most complex personal injury cases

12. Threats from Liable Parties

People who know they have broken the law by not providing you with a duty of care may try unorthodox means to evade responsibility. They can threaten to harm or destroy you through other means if you take legal action against them. Always know that it’s your right to file a timely claim if you might be able to prove liability.  An attorney may be able to advise on how to best handle threats to injured parties.  

13. Underestimating Your Injuries

It’s not enough to assume you will recover quickly from your injuries. Some seemingly minor issues can transition into a full-blown medical crisis. Filing a personal injury claim soon after an accident ensures that important rights will be secured should things get out of control. 

14. Financial Concerns

A personal injury is expensive, no doubt. Even as you focus on your recovery, you must contend with bills upon piling bills. People may think they cannot afford an attorney to handle things professionally. 

However, you should know that potential compensation may cater to everything from attorney’s fees to medical bills and other damages. For those types of concerns, the idea is for people to consider working with a brilliant attorney with a reputation for winning cases and whose fees will be able to be covered after a successful claim. 

15. Lack of Reliable Witnesses

Sometimes witnesses can pull out of a potential personal injury case out of intimidation or fear of retaliation from liable parties. When people lack reliable witnesses to back up a case, they may feel discouraged, leading to a delay, postponement, or dropping of the case. 

16. Lack of Awareness of the Status of Limitations

Did you know the clock starts ticking the moment the accident occurs? In most cases, personal injury victims may have up to two years to file a case and pursue compensation in California. But not in all cases. Missing the deadline for whatever reason automatically bars you from taking any successful legal action in the future regarding your case. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with California’s statute of limitations. Other statutes may even further limit the time people have to pursue their rights.

17. Unwillingness to Cause Trouble

This may sound like cowardice, but some people avoid taking legal action because they want to avoid trouble with insurance companies, liable parties, and even legal representatives. People should have nothing to fear for seeking what they are entitled to under the law. If people can’t go it alone, our legal team would be happy to help schedule an appointment for a free consultation. 

18. Changes in Circumstances

Life’s inevitable events may disrupt your plans for filing an injury claim. For example, if involved in an auto accident where other passengers succumb, the incident can be devastating and draining. In a situation like that, people may not be able to file a claim on time. All injured parties are encouraged to contact an attorney immediately so they can handle the legal side of things as they deal with the accident’s aftermath. 

19. Personal Commitments

Your professional obligations are important, and so are your health and overall well-being. It would be best if people did not have to prioritize work commitments, however minor their injuries prove to be. People need to ensure they follow the steps to file a claim within the shortest time possible. 

20. Out of State Injuries

If you sustained injuries outside your state, the administration, bureaucracies, and legal requirements for different jurisdictions could be overwhelming and time-consuming. It’s possible to delay filing a claim as you try to meet the legal requirements for different states. If people get injured outside of California, they should immediately seek assistance from an attorney licensed to practice law in that specific jurisdiction. The attorneys at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. are licensed to advise and practice in California. 

21. The “Minor Injury” Stereotype

There’s apparently a popular notion that personal injury claims should only be filed for catastrophic injuries. If someone convinces you that your injuries are too minor to warrant compensation, you may miss out on receiving the benefits you are legally entitled to. Talk to an attorney and seek advice even if you have been told your injury is minor.

22. Partial Liability

Sometimes people could be partially responsible for the accident that caused their injuries. Still, this should not deter people from pursuing the available legal options they qualify for. In addition, California is a comparative negligence state meaning they can potentially be awarded compensation depending on their degree of responsibility. 

23. Fear of Damaged Relationships

If the injury was caused by a family member, friend, or someone people know personally, bringing a case against them can be challenging. Naturally, people hesitate to compromise the relationship and may choose not to file the claim. You should contact an attorney to advise on the best cause of action when you know the tortfeasor personally. 

24. Fear of a Court Battle 

The idea of going to trial scares many people out of filing an injury claim. Depending on the circumstances of the injury, your case may attract some publicity. However, some risks are worth taking since delaying a claim may block the chances of accessing adequate healthcare, further jeopardizing a person’s health and future. Again, only a relatively small percentage of cases actually go to a final decision by a court after a trial.

25. Lack of Legal Options 

Choosing the right attorney to represent you can be challenging. You probably want to seek guidance from a reputable professional with proven success stories and proficiency in handling similar cases. You want to speak to a licensed attorney to give your potential claims the best chance at being successful so that you have the best plan in place to recover all damages to which you may be entitled. 

Contact Our Personal Injury Attorney In Orange County

Are you a resident of Orange County or the Inland Empire? Do you have a personal injury case you don’t know how to handle? Whether or not you’re partially responsible for the injuries, you are welcome to schedule an appointment for a free consultation to discuss legal representation and potential reimbursement for any damages you might have a right to recover. 

Contact Our Orange County personal injury attorneys today, and we may be able to advise you on the right steps. Please fill out our online form or call (888)883-6588 for a no-obligation free consultation.

Who Pays for Ambulance Services in Your Personal Injury Case?

ambulance services

Accidents are inevitable and can be catastrophic. It can be agonizing and financially devastating if you or a loved one is a victim. Typically, the paramedics will be there to ensure timely medical intervention is achieved. 

Yet after an ambulance or emergency helicopter ride to the hospital, you’ll wonder who will cover the costs. It’s imperative that you work with a California personal injury lawyer who will guide you through your personal injury case and help you navigate the complex legal system. 

Paying Ambulatory Rides and Other Medical Bills

After an accident in which you sustained personal injuries, you only want to think about your life and chances of survival. You want to get out of that nightmare in one piece. So it can be even more distressing if you have to worry about the hefty medical expenses you will incur, including the ambulance ride. 

That probably explains why 25% of Americans have delayed medical intervention for serious accident-related injuries and illnesses. This is largely attributed to the cost of care, according to a recent Gallup Poll. 

The Kaiser Family Foundation also confirmed these statistics, as a recent report shows that about 100 million Americans have unpaid medical expenses. It further explains why most victims of auto accidents might refuse ambulance rides to avoid high medical bills.

Fortunately, California is an at-fault state, meaning ambulance services, air rides, and associated medical bills should be covered largely by the person responsible for an injured party’s accident and injuries.

If a person was involved in an auto accident due to another party’s negligence, the negligent party should cover all the reasonable medical expenses arising from the crash. They’re also responsible for reasonable vehicle and property damages and should also compensate for pain and suffering under the circumstances. 

However, before anyone can collect adequate compensation for their injuries and medical bills accrued, they will probably need to work with a skilled California personal injury lawyer who is better placed to navigate the legal system and ensure a fair outcome. 

If the negligence of another party caused your accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the following medical expenses:

  • Ambulatory transport, including helicopter rides for emergencies
  • Emergency room visits
  • Lab tests
  • Surgeries
  • In-patient hospital stays
  • Medical supplies
  • Medications
  • Chiropractic care
  • Physical therapy
  • Ongoing doctor appointments
  • Future medical treatments
  • Follow-up care
  • Rehabilitation

Catering to Medical Bills in California Personal Injury Cases 

Initially, when the accident first occurs and a person is rushed to the hospital, they will be responsible for the medical bills. 

If you have health insurance, the company might pay initially. If a person is not insured, they will probably receive the bills and might have to make out-of-pocket payments. This includes the cost of expensive emergency transportation such as ambulance and air rides. 

It’s important to note that Medicaid and Medicare can only cater to non-emergency ambulance services, and even so, the most people can probably expect is ¼ of the total amount.

Again, the at-fault party and their insurance companies are likely not yet legally required to make ongoing payments in rolling claims. 

With a competent attorney, an injured person can try to obtain a fair settlement without the need to file a lawsuit or sit through a trial. But if the attorney can prove third-party liability, the third party and their insurance providers could have to pay for all the reasonable damages and pain and suffering from the crash and its aftermath.

Furthermore, California is one of the states that do not require drivers to have personal injury protection insurance (PIP). Being in an at-fault state, compensation is typically paid in full by the negligent party and their insurer, not from PIP coverage. 

Before receiving reimbursement, however, an injured person might pay for emergency medical expenses through different means, such as: 


Covers helicopter/ambulance services and associated medical bills, including funeral expenses in case of death.

Health Savings

Some folks can clear urgent medical bills from their healthcare savings. Some employers might also chip in by contributing to a health savings account.

Medical Liens

If the cost of emergency medical care outweighs the amount a person has in a health savings account, the hospital might pause the clearance of your medical bills until a settlement is reached from a personal injury claim. This is called a medical lien. 

An ambulance service provider can also have a right to a medical lien, allowing an injured party to pay for the pending ambulatory rides after a settlement is reached.

Once a person signs a hospital or medical lien, they might continue receiving medical care until a personal injury claim is complete and compensation awarded. The hospital and ambulance service provider will generally collect all the amount owed from settlement funds. Out-of-pocket Costs

Unfortunately, there are situations where you may need to pay for ambulance services out-of-pocket. This could be due to having limited or no insurance coverage. In such cases, people who receive the services must negotiate with the ambulance service provider to discuss affordable payment options and potential discounts.

Unfortunately, medical treatment providers could also put folks into collections.  A competent attorney should be able to advise on the best course of action under the circumstances.

Collecting Ambulance Bills and Other Damages 

Knowing who pays for your ambulance expenses can be confusing and worrying when faced with a personal injury case. The responsibility of settling all the expenses depends on how reliable your health insurance coverage is, at-fault liability considerations, and the circumstances surrounding the accident. 

You must understand your rights, insurance policies, and available options for pursuing compensation. Most importantly, working with a dedicated attorney will help empower an injured party to navigate the complexities of ambulance service payments, ensuring access to the care and support necessary to get their health and life back on track. 

But above all else, timely medical intervention is crucial in a personal injury case, and ambulance or helicopter services are essential in achieving that. 

People injured in California must take specific actions that will ensure a strong case to obtain the compensation they deserve. We recommend that people follow these steps to the letter:

  • Seek immediate medical attention: Getting an immediate health response is non-negotiable. Your health and life should come first; else, your injuries can be catastrophic if not treated. Catastrophic injuries can result in permanent disability, dismemberment, severe incapacitation, and even death. Ensure you receive all reasonable and appropriate emergency health attention, even if it means having a helicopter ambulance fly you to the hospital.
  • Document the incident: You’ll need details of the accident to help investigate your claim. Ensure you document as much information as possible. 
  • Inform your insurer: Initially, you’ll probably be responsible for all the bills associated with the accident, evenas you pursue your claim. Your insurance provider should be notified as early as possible. 
  • Talk to an attorney: A team of legal professionals will help to ensure a fight for a successful claim and reasonable compensation. Talk to a California personal injury lawyer before you engage the at-fault party’s insurance providers. 

Connect with a California Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one is an accident victim, you do everything possible to solve the situation. Working with a competent attorney is advisable to ensure you obtain justice and the compensation you deserve for financial losses and pain and suffering you’ll be subjected to. 

Our attorneys at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. will analyze the facts of your potential case as part of a free consultation and advise you if there is an option for a way forward. We have the experience and resources to handle claims to the end and obtain a reasonable result. Connect with our California personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation by filling out our online form to schedule a meeting. 

California Statute Of Limitations For Personal Injury

statute of limitations

Accidents happen every day in California and nationally, and if someone’s negligence caused the incident, you could be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, California has a statute of limitations for filing a claim, so you should promptly speak to a Fullerton personal injury lawyer at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. today for legal advice.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Personal Injury?

Forbes states that a statute of limitations establishes a time limit for how long a plaintiff has to file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident. You must file your lawsuit within that time to take legal action, with a few exceptions.

In most types of cases, California’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is only two years. Some statutes of limitation for personal injury can be as short as 6 months!  So, an injured party generally has between 6 months and two years from the accident date to file a case. The clock for the statute of limitations starts on that date, so it is essential to contact an attorney promptly. Collecting sufficient evidence for a personal injury lawsuit takes time. If you wait until just before the statute of limitations runs out, many attorneys may be reluctant to take the case.

When The Statute Of Limitations Tolls

There are limited circumstances in which the statute of limitations can be delayed or tolled. For instance, if the plaintiff is under 18 when the accident happens, the statute of limitations will start once they become an adult on their 18th birthday. Also, if the party is mentally incapacitated when the accident happens, the statutory clock might not start until the party regains their mental capacity.

What Are Exceptions To The California Statute Of Limitations?

The statute of limitations might even be shorter than 2 years, as short as 6 months.  But in limited cases, you can have the statute of limitations start later than the day of injury. Two examples are:

You Did Not Know About The Injury Initially

In some accidents, you may be unaware of the injuries at first. Suppose people are in a California car accident and do not notice a back injury at first, but it arises after a few weeks, and they go to the doctor. In that case, the statute of limitations might be extended. After all, it is unfair to be penalized because someone did not know that the injury existed the day the accident happened.

The Defendant Left California

If the defendant is not in the state, a statute of limitations might be tolled until they reenter California. This is because a defendant out of state is not subject to process service rules in California. This means they can only be sued once they return to the state. The statutory clock might restart when the defendant returns to California.

Does The Statute Of Limitations Apply To An Insurance Claim?

This is a common misconception, and the answer is no. The California statute of limitations applies only to cases that you file in court. In most cases, you will commence any insurance claim related to a personal injury claim within a few days or weeks of the accident. If it was a car accident, your auto insurance provider typically requires you to inform them promptly of any accidents.

How Do You File A Personal Injury Lawsuit In California?

Most personal injury lawsuits in California are filed in one of the state’s trial courts, which have jurisdiction over California civil trials. Usually, you will file the case in the courthouse for the county where the accident happened or where the person lives. The California personal injury lawsuit begins with:

  • A complaint that details your claims against the other party you are suing. It will include a request for compensation for your personal injuries and other losses.
  • A summons that tells the defendant that a lawsuit has been filed against them.

What If You Partly Caused The Accident?

In some cases, such as auto accidents, the person with injuries is partly responsible for the incident. If that happens in your incident, the amount of compensation you receive could be affected. California has a pure comparative negligence standard, which means the amount of money you receive in a lawsuit is reduced by your percentage of liability for the accident.

Suppose you are in a car accident where the other driver rear-ends you at a stop light. In most cases, that driver would be at fault. But if your brake lights were not functioning, you could be found partially liable for the incident. If you are awarded $10,000 in damages and are found 30% liable for the accident, your compensation would be reduced by $3,000.

However, remember that the comparative negligence rule applies to California courts in a lawsuit. Negotiating with an insurance adjuster outside the legal system can be another story. Do not be surprised if the other driver’s insurance company mentions the comparative negligence rule during settlement talks. But your personal injury attorney will advocate for you and try to get the other party assigned as much liability as they deserve for the accident.

Is There A Personal Injuries Cap In California?

No, there is no universal cap for damages in personal injury lawsuits in the state. However, there are a few laws that put limits on certain types of damages.

For example, California law bars most drivers without auto insurance from receiving pain and suffering damages after an auto accident. This is even if the other driver caused the accident. However, the uninsured driver could receive pain and suffering damages if an intoxicated driver hits the driver or that driver has been convicted of DUI related to that accident. Next, there is a $350,000 pain and suffering cap on most medical malpractice cases, which is raised annually per AB 35.

Speak To Our Fullerton Personal Injury Lawyer Now

Were you injured in a California accident caused by another person or entity? You may have the right to file a lawsuit under California law, but you only have a limited time to act. However, taking on the legal system on your own is unlikely to lead to a successful outcome. Contact our Fullerton personal injury lawyer at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. We can quickly determine if you have a viable case, so please call (888) 883-6588 today.

How To Help Your Orange County Personal Injury Lawyer Win Your Case

personal injury law

Most lawsuits in the United States involve personal injury, including car accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice, and product liability. However, if you have been injured because of someone’s negligence, there are several things you can do to help your personal injury attorney try to win your case. Read below to learn more, and contact our Orange County personal injury attorney at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C., for more information.

Tell Your Attorney The Truth

Suppose you are in a car accident in Orange County near Disneyland Park or Knott Berry Farm. Someone turned left in front of your SUV, and you T-boned them. It sounds like it was the other driver’s fault. What if you were speeding and 25% responsible for the accident?

You can still recover compensation in a lawsuit if you are partially at fault, but do not be tempted to hide the truth from your attorney. The truth will be exposed during the police investigation and lawsuit discovery. Therefore, it is always best to be honest with your attorney. Give them all the facts, so they are ready for any weak parts of the case.

Save All Accident-Related Documents

You should save all documents that are related to the accident. These include the police report; photos of your injuries and the vehicles; contact information from witnesses; medical bills, and notes on when you received medical treatments. Your attorney will gather most of these documents but you can save time by gathering them yourself. 

Also, think about writing or videoing a personal injury journal. This can help describe the pain you are in as you recover. In addition, the journal may be used by your injury attorney during settlement negotiations.

Do Not Guess

If asked about the accident, you should stick to the truth. While you should not admit fault, always tell the truth.

For instance, if you are unsure how fast you were going when the car hit you, ask your attorney whether to simply say you do not know. The insurance company will use anything you say that is inaccurate against you. It may be an innocent mistake, but the other side will try to portray it as you being reckless at worst or untruthful at best.

Do Not Speak To Their Insurance Company

The insurance company for the liable party may attempt to contact you after the accident, even on the same day. They are not interested in your well-being. They often want potential claimants to sign a quick settlement agreement before they hire an Orange County personal injury attorney. The insurance company knows the odds are a lawyer will almost always argue for more money than if a potential claimant does not have a lawyer. Hiring an attorney will mean that if the insurance company keeps calling you, you could simply tell them you hired a lawyer, and they need to talk to your attorney.

Avoid Social Media

It is understandable to want to tell people about what happened to you. However, you should not post about the accident or case on social media. The insurance company might watch you closely after the incident, including monitoring your social media feeds.

Posting about your accident and injuries can be twisted and used against you. If you even post about going for a walk, the insurance company may attempt to argue you are not hurt. Ask your attorney whether it might be a good idea to take a break from social media until the case is over.

Respond To Your Attorney

It is a common complaint when an attorney does not respond to a client’s calls or emails. It goes the other way, too. If your attorney calls or emails for information, do your best to get back to them the same day.

On a related note, if your attorney files a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant will send interrogatories, or written questions, to your lawyer. The lawyer’s office will probably send those questions to you. Answering the interrogatories promptly and giving your attorney the necessary information is vital. The case could be compromised or even dismissed if you do not provide the correct information on time.

Whether To Take A Settlement If Your Attorney Recommends It

The vast majority of personal injury cases end in a settlement. It is often not worth the risk and expense of going to trial – for either side. If your attorney recommends you settle for a certain amount, strongly consider it. But if your lawyer says you should go to trial, you should probably follow their recommendation. They are more familiar with accident cases and the law than most people.

Act Quickly

California has a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury claims. This is the length of time you have since the accident to file a lawsuit. This may sound like plenty of time, but it can go by fast. Maybe you thought your truck accident injuries would heal independently, and they did not after a year. 

Give your attorney as much time as possible to build a strong case. If the claim must be thrown together at the last minute, it will be more difficult to prevail.

Make A Good Impression

If you must go to court, make the best possible impression. Dress well, be polite, and tell the truth. Juries make decisions based on the facts and how you look and act. Your attorney will advise you on how to look and act if you need to appear in court.

See Your Doctor And Keep Your Medical Appointments

One of the most critical parts of getting a large settlement in a lawsuit is having your doctor on your side. The professional opinion of a doctor is essential to winning a case. In addition, you need your doctor to describe the severity of your injuries and how they are related to the accident.

The courts see doctors as expert witnesses. Therefore, their testimony is critical to the success of potential claims.  

Speak To An Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Today

Were you injured in a car accident in Orange County on Beach Boulevard, Ortega Highway, or Laguna Canyon Road? You might need a personal injury attorney if the other driver caused the accident. Orange County personal injury attorneys at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. can help. Please contact our SOCAL personal injury lawyers at (888) 883-6588 for a complimentary consultation.

How New California Policy Limit Demand Law Could Impact Personal Injury Cases

policy limit demand

 Auto accidents happen every day on Orange County roads, such as I-5 Santa Ana Freeway and I-405 San Diego Freeway, and lead to injury and damages. Sometimes these cases will lead to a policy limit insurance coverage claim. In California, a pending law change may affect policy limit demands in Orange County and elsewhere. If you have been hurt in an accident because of someone’s negligence, talk to our Orange County personal injury attorneys at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C.

What Is A Policy Limit Demand In California?

It is understood in the state that insurance companies need to accept policy limit demands. However, the ideas of fair dealing and good faith in an insurance contract mean the insurance company should not expose a client to liability if a judgment is more than policy limits.

California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 999-999.5

California Code of Civil Procedure sections 999-999.5, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2023, sets up essential statutory requirements for people making policy limit demands in California. The idea driving the new law is to establish guidelines for using time-limited demands to settle personal injury lawsuits in many areas, including auto, commercial, and homeowner policies.

A time-limited demand is described as the following in C.C.P 999 (b) (2): “an offer before the filing of the complaint or demand for arbitration to settle any cause of action or a claim for personal injury, property damage, bodily injury, or wrongful death made by or on behalf of a claimant to a tortfeasor with a liability insurance policy for purposes of settling the claim against the tortfeasor within the insurer’s limit of liability insurance, which by its terms must be accepted within a specified period.”

The California statute, Senate Bill 1155, has established the standards below when the claimant puts forth a time-limited demand. The demand letter needs to have these attributes:

  • First, the demand needs to be in writing.
  • It must be called a time-limited demand.
  • It must provide at least 30 days for the other party to accept the demand when delivered by email. It must provide 33 days if it is sent by conventional mail.
  • The letter must clearly demand to settle the matter inside insurance policy limits. It also needs to satisfy all liens.
  • The letter needs to state the loss date when the loss occurred, and a claim number, if there is one.
  • It must provide a description of every personal injury that the person had.
  • It must provide clear evidence of the claim and damages. It can include medical expenses and related records.

When the insurer gets the policy limit demand, it is allowed under the new California law to request additional information. Making this request does not mean there was a counteroffer or a rejection. If the insurer rejects the demand, the claimant must be informed in written form before the 30 days or 33 days expires. The new law will offer a more level playing field on both sides of California civil claims.

How Often Do Personal Injury Claims Exceed Policy Limits?

One of the problems with some personal injury claims is the policyholder’s policy limits may not be enough to cover all damages after an accident. So, how often do accident settlements exceed California policy limits?

California Vehicle Code 16451 states minimum liability coverage is set for all California drivers. This minimum includes property damage and bodily injury. The minimum is $15,000 for the injury or death of one person in one accident and $30,000 for the injury or death of more than one person in one accident.

You also must have at least $5,000 for damage to the other person’s property. But remember that these amounts are only the minimum; many people have much higher coverage.

What Happens If Your Claim Exceeds Policy Limits?

The law in California provides that insurers must review every detail of a claim and provide a fair settlement. However, most insurers think a ‘fair settlement’ is any number at or below policy limits. So, for example, if the driver who is at fault has $15,000 coverage for bodily injury, the injured person should be entitled to $15,000. But how often do claims go over policy limits in the state?

In most cases, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident. If the injured party filed a personal injury lawsuit, the insurer might try to reduce or deny the claim. If this happens, it is common for the injured party to file a personal injury lawsuit against the insurance company or another party involved in the incident.

How To Sue Beyond Insurance Policy Limits?

If your accident claim exceeds the policy limits, there are several ways to obtain additional compensation. The first is to file a lawsuit against the at-fault person in the accident. If the liable person has significant financial resources, it could be best to file a lawsuit against them for the additional money they owe.

However, not all liable parties have the funds to pay for a judgment. Filing a personal injury lawsuit against a driver with a low income or no assets will probably not lead to more money for you. If that is the case, your Orange County personal injury attorney will consider other options. 

One option could be to file a lawsuit against the insurer for operating in bad faith. If the insurer is trying to minimize or deny your claim, these tactics could be illegal in some situations. If your attorney can prove it, the insurer may be successfully sued for acting in bad faith when a claim goes over policy limits. The other option is to sue someone else involved in the accident.

Speak To Our Orange County Personal Injury Attorneys Today

If you were injured in an accident caused by someone’s negligence, you could be entitled to compensation for your losses and damages. Law Office of Joseph Richards P.C. has skilled Orange County personal injury lawyers who can help you. Contact our Orange County Personal Injury Attorneys now at (888) 883-6588 for a complimentary consultation. Our lawyers work with injured clients in Riverside County, Orange County, and San Bernardino County.